Kill Review: Hindi Cinema Has Never Produced Anything Quite Like This

Kill Review: It is taut, tense and terrifically inventive with the acts of staggering violence that it executes inside the coaches of a train hurtling through the night. The film is definitely not for the squeamish.

Kill Review: Hindi Cinema Has Never Produced Anything Quite Like This

Lakshya in a still from Kill.(courtesy: itslakshya)

Hindi cinema has never produced anything quite like Kill. The film has emerged from a crevice hitherto unexplored by Mumbai cinema. It pushes the boundaries of violence and gore way beyond what a Bollywood action flick has ever imagined.

Instead of staging the usual kind of bowdlerized Bollywood set-pieces that are designed to service the fans of an action star, Kill does away with safety paddings. Its take-no-prisoners approach yields unending thuds and gashes and frantic, blood-spattered blows and lunges.

The hero and the principal antagonist in Kill, directed by Nikhil Nagesh Bhat and produced by Karan Johar and Guneet Monga, are played by actors who aren't hamstrung by the limitations that stardom imposes.

They have no image to break away from although the casting of dancer and choreographer Raghav Juyal as an up-the-pole killer is certainly intriguing. The diametrically different men they are on screen are apparently ordinary guys with extraordinary propensities.

When they have a go at each other bare fists and otherwise, the result is electrifying. The actors are at liberty to go with the flow of a film whose power stems from its incessant intensity.

Centred on a no-holds-barred face-off between two off-duty Black Cat commandos and dozens of armed criminals who attack a Delhi-bound train, Kill resorts to what some might regard as overkill. To be sure, excess is what the film revels in. It uses the surfeit of violence with a clear awareness of its visceral potential.

It is taut, tense and terrifically inventive with the acts of staggering violence that it executes inside the coaches of a train hurtling through the night. The film is definitely not for the squeamish.

What the zombies are to Train to Busan the train raiders are to this express ride to Mughalsarai. There is one clear difference though. In the latter case, the attackers quickly turn into sitting ducks who alternate between aggression (as a defence mechanism) and mounting fear of an adversary of a kind that they have never encountered before.

The stunt choreography by Parvez Shaikh and Se-yeong Oh (action director on Bong Joon-ho's Snowpiercer as well as the Bollywood thrillers War and Tiger 3) imparts to Kill a crusty layer of shocking 'realism'. When a throat is slit, a torso is ripped open or a few fingers are chopped off, one gapes in numbing horror.

Indeed, the blood-letting is relentless. Men are impaled. One brigand has his head smashed with a fire extinguisher. Another's face is set ablaze. Some are bludgeoned to death. Skulls are split open with weapons that range from meat cleavers and axes to hammers. The film sure isn't easy to watch but is strangely mesmeric.

The story, needless to say, is thin. Tulika Singh (Tanya Maniktala) loves Captain Amrit Rathore (Lakshya) and is determined to marry him against her family's wishes. Her domineering dad, Baldev Singh Thakur (Harsh Chaya), who owns a transport business in Jharkhand and is dreaded for his connections, forces her to get engaged to a man of his choice.

The family, which includes Tulika's younger sister Aahna (Adrija Sinha), is on their way back to Delhi from an unspecified city on the route of the Rajdhani Express when the train is raided by a gang of desperadoes led by Beni (Ashish Vidyarthi) and his hot-headed son (Raghav Juyal).

The gang begins to loot the passengers. It is all in a day's work for the train robbers until they realise that they might be in for a rough ride this time around. The have to contend with Amrit and his NSG mate Vishesh Atwal (Abhishek Chauhan).

The former, along with his best pal from the forces, has boarded the train surreptitiously. He does not want to let Tulika out of his sight. The duo is obviously caught unawares by the marauding bandits. They quickly figure out what is going on and swing into action.

The resultant violence does not stop until the train trundles into Deen Dayal Upadhyay Junction (erstwhile Mughalsarai Jn) roughly seven hours later. The mayhem is chilling and cathartic - chilling because it is unabashedly ghastly and senseless, cathartic because the marauders aren't allowed to get away with murder.

There are losses on both sides but the outnumbered commandos are more than a match for the bad guys. The latter make a number kills but their horrific deeds never seem likely to go unpunished. The response to their gruesome acts is almost instant and no less grisly.

Kill has a moral compass, a clear context for the 'war' that unfolds. You are lucky you are not on the border, one of the commandos says to a robber he overpowers, or else you would have been dead by now. Brinkmanship is the order of the day.

Neither of the sides yields any ground. The violence is beyond extreme. The line separating the morally expedient and the utterly appalling is blurred in ways that make it impossible to tell one from the other. As the body count increases at an alarming rate, it has an inevitable psychological impact of both sides of the moral divide.

The invaders, caught in an unforeseen life-and-death situation that takes a heavy toll on their ranks, indulge in blood-curdling acts as much in self-defence as in desperation. Even as doubts begin to creep in, they are conscious that they cannot be seen as incapable of standing up to the might and ferocity of a lone Black Cat.

The commandos, trained to jump into battle in worst-case scenarios, are left with no option but to go for the kill without any second thoughts. In the immediate aftermath of their first kill, the commandos aren't sure what they did was right. It was a split-second decision, says the man at whose hand the unintended death occurs.

Similarly, when the brigands claim their first victim in a sickening turn of events, the killer is reprimanded for his impulsive act and warned by the gang's leader of the consequences. We have principles, the mastermind says. His son pooh-poohs that claim. We are criminals and we have no principles, he asserts.

The amoral, apocalyptic setting that the director carves out of the familiar spaces of a passenger train is enhanced by cinematographer Rafey Mehmood's exceedingly resourceful camerawork. The editing by Shivkumar V. Panicker enhances the pace of a film that has no room for any form of statis.

Kill, stupefying and explosive, is an experience. It is grim but cinematically glorious. But be warned: the fainthearted are likely to find the film disturbing.


Lakshya, Raghav Juyal and Tanya Maniktala


Nikhil Nagesh Bhat